Article > Letters to the Editor

There’s No Substitute For Paper


I have been in auto parts for more than 30 years, both in the aftermarket, and in dealerships. There is no real substitute for the books.

True, the e-cat may be faster, especially in conjunction with e-invoicing, but the books still win hands down. I have experienced, and still do on a daily basis, inaccurate or missing information. With a book, you can pencil in the correction or the additional info. You can also pencil in a contact’s phone number in the front of the book, if need be. We have books that we heavily guard and are treated with the utmost respect. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.

I constantly see repetitive info, useless info or irrelevant info. This kills me when I’m looking up 2WD parts, and see 4WD parts listed after I told the computer I was looking up a 2WD. The same goes for engine size and many other things. In the paper cats, you just look at the line item and you’re done.

It’s too easy for someone to say it’s not listed, I can’t help you with an e-cat. We vets know better. We have seen the info in the past. We know it’s there. You just have to go to the paper to find it. And just what do you do when the computer goes down?

Bill Siena, Carquest Auto Parts
Fayetteville, GA. 
  Previous Comments
avatar   Paul   star   6/19/2009   6:04 PM

In his May 2008 article (Making the Case for Unreasonable Ideas) Jon Owens described paper cats as "at best, a cumbersome and very expensive security blanket and, at worst, a necessary cash cow that helps counter people nationwide complete a look-up or accurate part identification only 10 to 15 percent of the time." How can any store survive turning away 10-15% of it's customers? That makes them more than just a security blanket or a cash cow. I don't see any E-cat fully covering older vehicles simply because there is a limited amount of memory to use. If we don't have access to reprints of paper catalogs to replace those worn out from use(yes, it does happen) or new copies for new stores opening, how can we say we are serving our customers better than the OEs?

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